Hill Tribes, Halong Bay & Beyond - 13 days
From Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, discover Vietnam’s remote ethnic minority villages and go trekking in the beautiful Mai Chau Valley, cruise around the limestone peaks of picturesque Halong Bay and the floating markets of the Mekong, explore imperial cities and more on this 13 day tour.
Wednesday. Xin Chao! Welcome to Vietnam! On arrival at the airport you’ll be transferred to our hotel, where the rest of the day is free to explore Hanoi at leisure. Perhaps visit the Presidential Palace or Ho Chi Minh’s famous House on Stilts.
For those arriving early or the day before the tour begins, consider our Backstreets of Hanoi add-on. Explore the lesser-visited districts of Cho Buoi, Hoang Hoa Tham and Vinh Phuc. You’ll also get to ride behind a driver on taxi motorbikes through the narrow streets of the city and along the shore of Ho Tay Lake.
Hanoi - Mai Chau. Leave bustling Hanoi this morning as we drive to a charming village in the Mai Chau Valley. Enjoy lunch at a traditional family-run guesthouse on stilts and take a leisurely walk in the countryside this afternoon. Stroll through rice fields and meet the locals, before the rest of today is at leisure. Relax as you please or hire bikes and explore more of the valley.
Overnight: Mai Chau | Breakfast, Lunch
Today we drive to the H’mong ethnic lands in the mountainous province of Hoa Binh and the rocky plateau of Hang Kia. Meet the colourfully dressed locals and eat lunch in a traditional wooden home. This afternoon we enjoy an easy-paced trek downhill to Mai Chau Valley, admiring the picturesque scenery as we go. We'll then be transferred back to our lodge in the valley.
Please note: If you prefer not to trek, we can transfer you by road back to the lodge, where you can enjoy the afternoon at leisure.
Overnight: Mai Chau | Breakfast, Lunch
Mai Chau - Hanoi. There’s the opportunity to visit the local Mai Chau market this morning, before we continue to the town of Hoa Binh. Explore the charming Muong Culture Museum to see women in traditional dress and authentic Muong stilt houses, as well as a collection of fascinating artefacts. After our visit we enjoy a traditional Muong lunch, before returning to Hanoi.
Overnight: Hanoi | Breakfast
Hanoi - Halong Bay. This morning we leave Hanoi and drive to the beautiful UNESCO-listed Halong Bay. The bay is dotted with around 2,000 limestone islets and some are home to flora and fauna found nowhere else on Earth. Board a comfortable Junk Boat and enjoy stunning views as we sail around the bay and discover the striking stalagmites and stalactites in Tien Ong Cave, which wasn't opened to the public until 2010. This evening enjoy a Vietnamese cooking demonstration and a delicious seafood dinner onboard, before we spend the night in the bay.
Overnight: Deluxe Junk Boat | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Halong Bay - Hanoi - Hue. This morning enjoy an optional Tai Chi class on deck or a traditional massage. We then take to the bay in kayaks to explore the floating village of Cua Van. The colourful houses are home to a community of fishing families who spend most of their lives in the bay.
This afternoon we return to Hanoi and enjoy an exciting rickshaw ride around the city’s narrow streets. See highlights of the capital including the Opera House and Ly Thai To Park. We’ll then take a walk through the “36 Streets” of the Old Quarter. Tonight, we board the ‘Reunification Express’ night train to Hue (standard 4 berth sleeper cabin) or there is an option to fly to Hue if you prefer.
Overnight: Sleeper train | Breakfast
Arrive in Hue today and enjoy a guided tour of this former imperial capital of Vietnam. Discover the iconic seven story Thien Mu Pagoda - Hue’s most famous landmark and home to the oldest monastery in the city. We’ll also explore the Imperial Purple Palace, heavily bombed during the 1968 TET Offensive. Later, visit the Royal Tombs of the Nguyen Dynasty kings and the mausoleum of Emperor Tu Duc. The Emperor spent much of his reign living at this lavish site but was actually buried elsewhere in the city. His final resting place remains undiscovered to this day. This evening, there’s an optional long boat excursion on the Perfume River. Marvel at the rugged mountain scenery as we cruise along.
Overnight: Hue | Breakfast, Lunch
Hue - Road of the Ocean Clouds - Hoi An. Today we drive along the famous Hai Van Pass (Road of the Ocean Clouds), one of the most beautiful coast roads in the world. Enjoy the striking views before we stop for a walk and a quick swim at My Khe beach - famous for appearing in the blockbuster film ‘Apocalypse Now’. Continue to the charming port city of Hoi An for a guided walking tour. Explore highlights including the Chua Ong Pagoda and the iconic Japanese Bridge. The rest of the day is at leisure to explore the cobbled streets and bustling waterfront of the city. You may also wish to consider our Hoi An Street Eats add-on. Hop on a vintage Vespa motorcycle and ride with a driver to several local restaurants. Try delicious all-you-can eat local cuisine and enjoy free-flowing drinks.
Overnight: Hoi An | Breakfast
Enjoy a leisurely bike ride into the countryside today as we visit Tra Que village. Learn about traditional farming methods and medicine, before you have a go at tending the fields yourself. We’ll then enjoy a tasty lunch, but not before we cook it ourselves with a fun and interactive cooking demonstration.
Overnight: Hoi An | Breakfast, Lunch
Today is free to enjoy in Hoi An at leisure. Take a rowboat along the river, relax on the beach or do some shopping. There is an optional excursion to the site of the infamous My Lai Massacre. The massacre was one of the most barbaric acts of the Vietnam War, when more than 500 unarmed civilians were killed by US forces. Walk through the village and learn more about this harrowing event.
Overnight: Hoi An | Breakfast
Hoi An - Ho Chi Minh City. This morning we fly to Ho Chi Minh City (included) and drive to the Mekong Delta. Board a traditional sampan at Cai Be and cruise down the canals, enjoying the stunning scenery as we sail. Watch the locals go about their daily lives and stop at some of the home factories where local people produce popcorn and sweets. We’ll enjoy lunch in a traditional wooden home on Dong Hoa Hiep Island.
Overnight: Can Tho | Breakfast, Lunch
Can Tho - Ho Chi Minh City. Early this morning we visit the Cai Rang floating market before returning to Ho Chi Minh City. Enjoy a walking tour of the former capital of South Vietnam and take in highlights of the city including the Notre Dame Cathedral and the sobering War Remnants Museum.
Overnight: Ho Chi Minh City | Breakfast
Monday. This morning is free to explore Ho Chi Minh City as you please, before our tour ends with a departure transfer to the airport.
If you wish, extend your tour with a day trip to the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, vital to the Viet Cong fighters during the Vietnam War. Crawl through a section of the tunnels and fire assault weapons at the firing range.
Cu Chi Tunnels - go underground!
Discover the Cu Chi Tunnels - a vast underground network of tunnels and hideouts used by Viet Cong guerrilla fighters during the 1960’s. Often lead by a relative of a Viet Cong fighter in green fatigues you’ll walk the bush trails discovering grass covered trapdoors, ingenious, yet gruesome booby traps and hidden underwater entrances in rivers. There is also an opportunity to go underground and pop off a few rounds at the firing range. Our Cu Chi Tunnels bolt-on includes return transportation to and from Cu Chi, guided tour and 1 night accommodation in Ho Chi Minh City.
Prices & Dates
Departure dates noted with a 'G' are guaranteed to operate. All other departure dates are guaranteed with a minimum of 2 persons. Prices shown are per person travelling. 'Twin/Double' prices per person apply when there are 2 people travelling, sharing a room. The 'Single supplement' applies for single travellers who require their own room and needs to be added to the 'Twin/Double' price. If you are happy to be paired up with another single traveller of the same sex on your tour, this can be arranged, thus avoiding the single person supplement.
The hotels listed below are ones which we frequently use on this tour. We reserve the right to substitute these hotels to ones of a similar standard when necessary.
Sunway Hotel, Hanoi
This ambient, boutique hotel combines traditional appeal with modern pleasures. Rooms are furnished in a contemporary fashion with an array of amenities for added comfort. Its restaurant provides a great variety of Vietnamese cuisine and you are welcome to enjoy cocktails and live music in the Jazz Bar or relax in the hotel's health spa.
Sol Bungalows, Mai Chau
Surrounded by emerald mountains and bamboo gardens, Sol Bungalows is set in the very heart of the Mai Chau valley. Its guestrooms are elegantly decorated and equipped with modern amenities including complimentary WiFi access. This secluded resort is the perfect spot to relax and soak up the dramatic scenery, with fantastic views over the surrounding lush rice paddies. An onsite restaurant offers delicious regional fare and guests can enjoy a host of other activities including a weaving class, traditional dance class, massage treatments, mountain biking and much more.
Bhaya Classic I Junk Boat, Halong Bay
This premier cruise boat offers 18 well appointed cabins with en suite amenities. Cabins are contemporary in design, whilst the finer touches have a distinct oriental influence. All cabins feature large windows creating a bright and airy atmosphere as well as scenic views. Facilities and services onboard include a dining room and bar, a sunbathing area on-deck, masseur and small library.
Syrena Junk Boat, Halong Bay
A tradition hand crafted boat, the Syrena Junk Boat offers superb en suite air conditioned cabins with comfortable interiors and balconies. The on board Lotus Restaurant serves up a delicious array of Vietnamese and International cuisine. Complimentary Wi-Fi is available in the public areas. Swimming, kayaking and tai chi are all offered on board and movie nights are also very popular.
Mondial Hotel, Hue
Just a 5 minute walk from the Ho Chi Minh museum, the Mondial Hotel is a contemporary hotel with excellent amenities. Guest rooms benefit from spacious interiors, comfortable beds and lots of mod-cons. There is complimentary Wi-Fi for guests, an outdoor pool and onsite spa - perfect for a re laxing massage. As well as the delicious Huong Xuan Restaurant there is also the Lobby Lounge - great for cocktails before dinner!
ÊMM Hotel, Hue
Situated in the heart of the former imperial capital, ÊMM Hotel is the perfect base from which to explore Hue’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed sights. Completely renovated in 2016, the guestrooms are generously-sized and complete with modern amenities. The imperial jade and royal purple colour scheme was inspired by ancient Hue itself and guests can take advantage of the mini-gym, pool-side bar and a spacious reading area. Enjoy delicious Vietnamese and international cuisine in the contemporary restaurant after a day of exploring.
Vinh Hung Riverside Resort, Hoi An
Vinh Hung Riverside Resort offers luxury and gracious hospitality in a traditional Vietnamese environment right on the banks of the Thu Bon river with top notch facilities.
Thanh Binh Riverside hotel , Hoi An
Boasting a beautiful outdoor swimming pool, the Thanh Binh Riverside offers excellent accommodation in a great loacation. Guest rooms benefit from garden or river views and all come full air-conditioned, with stunning hardwood floors and all mod-cons. The onsite restaurant offers a great selection of Vietnamese and International dishes and the town centre is just a mere 200m walk away. Why not grab a cocktail and relax by the pool in the afternoon - a great way to refresh yourself from the Vietnam heat.
Victoria Hotel Can Tho, Can Tho
This attractive, colonial-style resort is tastefully decorated with well-appointed rooms and a wide range of facilities including a spa, tennis courts, open-air bar, restaurant and a gym. The hotel also offers sunrise and sunset cruises to the floating markets aboard the Lady Hau junk.
Iris Hotel, Can Tho
This elegant hotel is housed within a modern building in the city of Can Tho. Each guest room comes equipped with plush furnishings to ensure a good night's sleep and is decorated with a neutral palate and calming tones. Rooms look over the city and boast a range of modern amenities such as air conditioning and stylish ensuite facilities. Magnificent views of the city can be had from the hotel's skybar while a range of gourmet local and international dishes can be sampled at the onsite restaurant.
Muong Thanh Centre, Ho Chi Minh City
Centrally located, yet on a peaceful, tree-lined street, you will find the Muong Thanh Centre. Only a ten-minute walk from top attractions such as the Notre Dame Cathedral, Opera House and Ben Thanh Market, this hotel is a great base for exploring the famous sights of the city. Its world-class rooms boast sophisticated designs and panoramic views. Warm and friendly, the Muong Thanh Centre also features a spa and swimming pool for you to relax and unwind after a long day of sight-seeing.
Northern Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City
Located in Saigon's central business district, the Northern Hotel offers comfortable and stylish accommodation. Guest rooms are contemporary in style and are decorated with warming tones and excellent en suite facilities. The onsite restaurant offers a variety of European and Asian dishes set on the mezzanine floor. The hotel also offers complimentary use of computers in the lobby and a fully equipped gym for those who wish keep fit whilst staying in the city.
Enhance your trip with these amazing added extras and add-ons